QUESTION FOR THE WEEK: The expected consolidation of the European airline sector is being played out by big name collapses, but who could be next?

6 October, 2019

In our new weekly series to break up those Monday morning office blues, The Blue Swan Daily will be testing your knowledge and insight into the aviation and travel industry. This is all just for fun, but who knows? We may be able to find a prize somewhere around CAPA HQ. This week's question is detailed below. The answers will be revealed and winners (if there are any correct entries) announced next week alongside our next question.

William Shakespeare famously wrote: "What's in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet." It highlights that what matters most is what something is, rather than what it is called. Perhaps a perfect analogy for the airline sector, where such famous names as Olympic (Airways and Airlines), Mexicana, Pan American, Sabena, Swissair, Trans World Airlines have been among the casualties of war (competition) after failing to quickly adapt to changing market conditions.

In the last years in Europe, airberlin and Monarch have been among the big names added to that list and now in the past weeks Thomas Cook, the founder of the package holiday, and its UK carrier Thomas Cook Airlines are a recent addition. We can also add Adria Airways, Aigle Azur, XL Airways France in what has been a challenging past month, unless, of course, you work for financial administrators.

The increasing media attention on the sector has seen the perennial comments of Michael O'Leary over the future of Ryanair's low-fare rival Norwegian. He may no longer be Ryanair's CEO having moved to a Group CEO position, but once again he has predicted Norwegian Air will be the next airline to go bust.

He has even predicted that it in just five years, there will be only "four carriers" dominating Europe - one being Ryanair - with the rest closing or merging with other airlines to compete. Now, Mr O'Leary was wrong with his premonition this time last year that Norwegian Air would go bust during the winter as that is when it and most other European airlines face tougher trading conditions.

You could argue that Mr O'Leary may not have highlighted which winter, but such comments do little to help airlines that could be struggling financially as consumers lose confidence in their brands. It is a tough time for all airlines as growth slows and economic clouds envelop the horizon. IAG, which has been trading well recently issued a profits warning due to the cost of a pilots' strike at British Airways, and we still don't know what is happening with Brexit.

The Blue Swan Daily thought it would be interesting to get some views from the industry over the strength of airline brands and those that we perhaps feel may face the toughest challenges over the months ahead.

As the successful owner of a winning racehorse we know that Mr O'Leary is a betting man, but it is unclear if his comments are just a friendly prediction or a deliberate act to undermine a competitor. As such we will not be publishing any airline names next week so we don't influence consumer confidence, but we will offer some feedback on our findings.

Our QUESTION OF THE WEEK is... The expected consolidation of the European airline sector is being played out by big name collapses, but who could be next? Which airlines will face the toughest battles this winter and why?

JOIN IN THE FUN: Send your answers to: The Blue Swan Daily Content Team

We will be revealing the answers at the same time next week, when we will be setting another question.

Last week we asked… Saudi Arabia opens its doors to tourism, but what are its current best connected international country markets?

According to CAPA - Centre for Aviation analysis of OAG schedule data for last week (w/c 30-Sep-2019), it us United Arab Emirates (UAE) that is the best connected country market to Saudi Arabia, ahead of Egypt and Pakistan, with India and Turkey making up the rest of the top five. The six to ten markets were Indonesia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Sudan.